On a continent as vast and diverse as Africa, there are no simple narratives on freedom and human rights. Like many places in the world, there are hopeful trends and success stories, but also worrisome trends and signs of backsliding. While sincere efforts to enshrine human rights in law are found in most of Africa’s 54 countries, the actual protection of those rights often falls victim to corruption or to violent non-state actors with other designs in mind. But there are reasons for optimism as well as caution — and ample data to show observers where the trends are going. For instance, according to Freedom House, sub-Saharan Africa has about 10 “free” countries (most of them small), about 20 “partly free,” and about 20 more “not free” nations. Recent trends in The Gambia and Angola give rise to optimism, while repressive actions in Tanzania and Uganda suggest they have a ways to go.
On November 20, the Africa Security Initiative at the Brookings Institution hosted a panel of experts on human rights trends in Africa. Afterwards panelists answered questions from the audience.
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